Politics and activism transport

The 2011 state budget

One would hope that the budget following an election would fulfil the promises made during that election, although it would not be beyond the bounds of reasonableness to spread them out over the term of government.

Somewhat surprisingly, at least to me, the Baillieu government has largely fulfilled all of its promises with its first budget, delivered on Tuesday. Perhaps the most glaring omission was the pledge on teacher wages.

That said, there are some niggles. In transport for instance:

  • There’s funding for all the rail extensions and new stations and grade separations promised, but it’s all planning, not construction. This is perhaps understandable in that the planning has to happen first — obviously it hasn’t happened yet, unlike roads, where Vicroads always seems to have done their homework and has them ready to go. It means to properly meet the pledges, the government will need to follow through in the next couple of years.
  • The funding is only for the first seven trains (of 40 total). The election pledge said seven in the first term of government. I don’t see this as a big issue, because remember that we’re about halfway through an existing order of 38… and it’s not clear yet what those will all be used for. The extra seven will be more X’trapolises, and the 33 remaining (not yet funded) are flagged to be a new high-capacity model.
  • Roads money was 50% higher than PT money, and a bunch of that was continued expansion of the Western Ring Road, which I’m not even sure was an election promise. Maybe they’ve already forgotten that they came to power on the back of PT issues, not roads.
  • There was nothing for buses or trams, apart from $8 million to restore a handful of W-class trams (which at best is a heritage investment, not a transport investment — and at worst could cause major disruptions if speed-hobbled Ws get placed onto busy routes, even outside peak times).

I understand one reason there wasn’t more was due to the cost overruns on the Regional Rail Link project and Myki. Mind you it’s still not clear if Myki is being kept or scrapped — there were conflicting messages on this on Tuesday.

The good news is that the Public Transport Development Authority got funding. If this is done right, with expertise and independence, it should help guide future government spending to the right solutions, as well as overhauling things like service coordination and planning.

State budget

PTUA’s budget response

What was your take on the budget?

By Daniel Bowen

Transport blogger / campaigner and spokesperson for the Public Transport Users Association / professional geek.
Bunurong land, Melbourne, Australia.
Opinions on this blog are all mine.

16 replies on “The 2011 state budget”

Does anyone want to have a bet on whether ANY of the new rail lines will actually go ahead, beyond planning (Avalon, Tulla, Doncaster, etc)?

New “higher capacity” trains? As in faster, or hold more people? Not sure how a train can hold more people than they do now… unless it’s blue and has the words “Police Box” painted on the side, though due to the single entrance dwell times would be a killer. If they’re going to go down the double decker road again, common sense seems to indicate a double decker train like Sydney won’t hold that many more people than single deck carriage of the same size. And they can’t add more carriages unless platforms were extended. They might be able to add one more, or perhaps have one single 6 carriage train, perhaps like Hong Kong that doesn’t split into two trains and therefore would hold slightly more people?

Re my subject of choice myki, it really seems as though the left hand doesn’t know what the right is doing within the coalition, with the treasurer giving one message, the premier another, and various anonymous back benchers other messages. It’s now four months since they announced their review, and we have zero indication on where they are at with it. I know there are other fish to fry, but surely it’s not that hard.

@Nathan, “high capacity” refers to passenger loads. It probably means more doors, and possibly a continuous body, eg no wasted space between the carriages. Probably a design with less seats, too, though hopefully not too many less, since a fair few passengers have to travel long distances (although .

Unlikely to mean double deck: they’ve said for years that they believe it blows out dwell times too much, though you do get about 50%-ish more people in each train.

@Nathan “common sense seems to indicate a double decker train like Sydney won’t hold that many more people than single deck carriage of the same size”

The double decks here in Sydney hold many more ppl than your single level trains, I can’t understand your logic???

The dwell times that Daniel mentions, surely moving more ppl on a train during peak periods negates this issue, and if we used less trains to move the same number of ppl, less carbon.

Daniel, thanks for confirming that the 7 new trains of 40 are different to the 38 ordered by the previous government, I have been trying to get an answer to this since the budget was released… :S

hmm I can picture it now lol… 7 car X’Trapolis M-T-T-T-T-T-M 158.67 metres long, 632 seated + room for ~300 standing… How long are our platforms?

I hope it doesn’t mean double deckers… while these might be good for longer haul high capacity routes (like the TGV duplex) they blow in Sydney for commuter rail, particularly the time it takes to alight. from either the top or bottom deck.. Is it also worth noting that Sydney trains are about 163 metres long whereas say our xtrapolis trains are 143.3 metres long? that is almost the length of another trailer car…

I hope these new trains are additions to the fleet and not going to replace the Comengs. I think the Comengs still function well and as a sydenham line commuter I would be happy for them to keep running for many years to come, it would be an awful waste to send them to the scrap heap. I do admit though that it is a wise decision to replace the 7 Hitachis, they have seen better days.

“they blow in Sydney for commuter rail, particularly the time it takes to alight. from either the top or bottom deck.. ”

The fact that some pommy consultant probably taking a secret commission to promote single-deck trains for a european manufacturer keeps repeating this, does not make it true.

Trains which have plenty of seats have less people crowding around the doors. And people boarding the trains in large numbers at the CBD stations have more ways to get out of the way of those behind them.

@Tango, that’s not what I said. AFAIK the 7 will be an extension to the order for 38.

The other issue with double-deckers is they can’t currently run on most lines because of bridge clearances. (The Loop is not an issue however.)

But yeah, some of the Paris suburban services show that double-deck and high frequency aren’t necessarily mutually-exclusive.

@Jon, yes, information has some to light that says the 7 newly funded X’traps will NOT replace the Hitachis, but will add to the fleet.

They weren’t able to find *anything* to fund any of the bus improvements recommended to the previous government (and promised in the election by Labor but carefully ignored by these guys). And so I still have to drive to the station.

Interesting that double decks are restricted in Victoria by bridges, I thought they all used the same hieght overhead wires? perhaps the top shoulders of the trains are higher and the bridges and tunnels are narrower?

@Nathan: a higher capacity train generally means fewer if any seats, lots of open space and as many doors on each side as the structure can take. And hopefully, permanent 6-carriage sets instead of the 3-carriage sets we join together now, because that wastes a lot of space in between cars.

Double deck trains are not high capacity because, despite what some individuals believe, the lack of doors per side of carriage increases waiting (dwell) time at platforms compared to what a proper Metro train would be able to do (although the dwell would probably match our Siemens fleet at current).

@tango: Our platforms are supposed to be 160 metres long, but most are shorter than that. But assuming that figure, that gives a 10% leeway for the train drivers, when their trains are 145 metres long. A seven-carriage train would need a platform length of about 185 metres.

@jon: While it hasn’t been explicitly stated, it was fairly clear until recently that the 7×6 neXtrapolis trains tacked on to the existing 38×6 order would be 1:1 replacements for the Hitachi trains, and I hope that is still the case.

The official crush-loading figures for the new trains are 1,394 people against 1,520 for a Hitachi, but the benefits of 24/7 availability, airconditioning and a more standardised fleet should outweigh that.

The order following, of 33×6 Metro trains (hopefully), should replace at least some of the Comeng fleet. They will have higher capacity and be better suited to our network for a start (everything since the Harris fleet has been halfway between a Metro and Interurban style, the worst of both worlds), and the Comeng fleet is really starting to wear out in areas that can’t be repaired. It’s either replace those parts, or scrap part of the fleet. In fact, a large proportion of the late running is caused by the Comeng fleet running at an average of 75-85% of its design specificaftions, because they’re so horribly run down. Some of them
are approaching 30 years old!

@enno, trains with more seats have less capacity than trains with less seats, because three standing people can fit in an area where two would sit (as a rough guide). In fact, crowding in doorways is usually the fault of a bad interior design that tries to fit too many seats, at the expense of encouraging people to move further into a train. Compare the north-side Comeng refurbishment (green handrails) to the south-side Comeng refurbishment (yellow handrails). The former has a space between the door and the windbreak, where people stand, while the latter doesn’t, so people stand directly in the doorway.

@Dogs Breath, the wires vary in height, even on one system. The pantograph (or pole, in the case of some trams) is springed so it always reaches the wire. So while the Belgrave/Lilydale lines have had their bridges raised to be double-deck compatible (and the wires raised as well), the single deck trains can still use them.

@David, no, I have it on good authority that the current plan is for the extra 7 X’traps to supplement the fleet, not replace the Hitachis. Probably explains why they’re priced so expensively… they’d need to include stabling costs. ($222m for 7 trains. Source)

@enno “Trains which have plenty of seats have less people crowding around the doors. And people boarding the trains in large numbers at the CBD stations have more ways to get out of the way of those behind them.”

Regarding Sydney trains, while people may seem to have more ways to get out of the way of those behind them once inside the train, those ways are restricted… there are 2 doors per car to access the platform level vestibules, from here you have a set of steps up and a set down, each roughly one and a bit persons wide… You can get probably 3 or 4 people through the exterior doors into the vestibule at once, but now you have a choke point inside the train, and the same is true when a lot of people are trying to alight (say at Central or Town Hall)…
Considering a Sydney style double decker probably gives you about 25% extra floor space over a single deck train (based on, I’m not convinced it is a worthwile tradeoff… *this is based on my personal observations… nothing scientific or particularly evidence based!
Perhaps the double deck RER trains that Daniel mentioned are more suited for getting bulk people on and off, IIRC they have 3 doors per car per side, but potentially the internal stairways would still be an issue… Dunno, I haven’t seen them in the flesh so to speak…

I suppose it depends what kind of train network we want Melbourne to become… If we are aiming for a high capacity, high frequency metro style network, you would aim for metro style trains with as many doors as possible to speed loading and unloading so trains aren’t tying up platforms for the next train. If we want a lower frequency commuter style network, then double deckers might be ok…

@Daniel, “AFAIK the 7 will be an extension to the order for 38.”
that is exactly what I wanted to know… perhaps my use of the word “different” was poorly chosen… I didn’t mean different as in technologically or contractually, I meant different as in are they extra trains on top of the 38 ordered by the previous government, or just funding for more of those 38 to be built etc…
If I have read correctly that it is 7 extra X’trapolis trains, what exactly does this mean, when United/Alstom are only ½ way through the order of 38? I mean, I cannot imagine the Nth Ballarat workshop pumping out 26 trains in the next 12 or so months, so is this money just set aside for trains now or do they pay up front or what?

@David, thanks for confirming platform length… I should have refreshed the page before posting, seems you had already covered most of my points about double deck trains!

@Daniel, yeah, stabling has definitely been factored into that price:
“$222 million for seven new trains (the first of 40 new trains for Melbourne commuters), train stabling at Calder Park and business case development funding for the remaining 33 new trains” – 2011-12 Budget Overview

@Daniel, I can’t help but wonder if the Hitachi fleet will mysteriously break down and be withdrawn on a 1:1 ratio with the Xtrap3’s. But I agree that $222mil – or about $5.2mil per carriage – can’t just be the cost of the trains, shipping and cranes. Maybe it includes the continues employment of Ballarat for construction, or some equipment replacement there, or some legal thing to let the trains get built there? But I don’t think it’s stabling, because I’d expect that to cost more and frankly, I’ve got no idea where it’s supposed to go.

Also, I’m led to believe that the TGV has its wires always at an exact height from the railheads, measured in mm, and that the pantographs on the trains lift and lock in place at a certain height rather than being sprung. We can’t do that because our network was thrown together rather than thought out properly from start to end.

@Tango, trains are delivered roughly at the rate of one per month, although strangely that doesn’t seem to vary by the number of carriages per train. However, as I understand it there’s another 18 months or so of the Xtrap2’s, then a break, then the Xtrap3’s are meant to be delivered in the seven months leading into the next election.

By the next election, and assuming that the entire existing fleet survives, we will have (in 6-car numbers):

6 Hitachi M-T-M-M-T-M
1 Hitachi M-T-M-M-D-M (slight capacity drop)
45 Comeng – Alstom Type
48 Comeng – EDI Type
0.5 Comeng – EDI with Connex internal layout
36 Siemens (hopefully without the speed restrictions)
74 Xtrapolis (with 2+2 seating)
An order for 33 new trains of another type

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